Josh Rosenthal :: Record Store Of The Mind

“How do you know what you’re looking for?”

That’s the question author Josh Rosenthal’s daughter Emma asks him as he  browses the bins at On the Corner Records. The conversation is recounted in the introduction to his first book, The Record Store of The Mind. Rosenthal’s spent his life in record stores and on the radio, which led to him working in the music industry, first for major labels like Columbia and Sony, before going rogue and founding Tompkins Square, which has released essential records in the fields of American Primitive guitar, gospel, hillbilly, and Americana since 2005. In the book, he details his decades in the business, inventories his massive record collection, and pens loving thoughts on his favorites: Tia Blake, Charlie Louvin, Alex Chilton, Bill Fay, Harvey Mandel (the book contains  an appreciation and call to support Mandel originally published here on Aquarium Drunkard), and dozens more.

Rosenthal possesses an archivist’s attention to detail – T. Bone Burnett refers to him as “a record man’s record man” on the back cover – but also a fan’s wild-eyed glee, and like a truly great record store, I found  gems filed in unexpected sections throughout the book: wry humor and in the “Start a Label If…” chapter; thoughtful discussions of race in the chapter dedicated to Louvin; patient eschatology in the chapter exploring Fay and his landmark record Time of the Last Persecution.

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